We visited two destinations with individual snake warning signs. Lincoln, CA was one (specifically, rattlesnakes). Here is the other (Reno/Sparks, NV, mostly rattlers):
Returning from the local Raley’s, I asked Mr. Halfstory if we could stop by the sign before walking over to the softball fields. “Sure!” he said “It’s your vacation!”
I love the desert. It wreaks havoc on my skin and I never want to hike in it, but I love the colors, the fry bread, the eerie stark landscape, and mostly, the lack of mosquitoes. All of these factors add up to excellent softball conditions as long as you have water, competent coaching, a visor, pony tail bands and no thunder/lightning warnings. Of course, that did happen. Because I was there. Game stopped in the middle of the 2nd inning because of multiple lightning strikes near the fields. Maybe it took out a few snake families?
There is also no lack of libation consumption on Planet Softball. Buried under hotel ice packed tightly into coolers and hoisted from trucks bearing vanity plates such as “Buckslayer,” are Red Bull and Captain Morgan. Not everyone drinks, but if they do, the libations are poured early. The one thing we all have in common is the waffle/pancake machine, which – I am guessing here – is available for use in every complimentary hotel breakfast in America. Like the individual Kellogg’s cereal boxes I coveted whenever we took a rare out-of-town jaunt (even though pouring the milk into the box was always disastrous), the waffle/pancake contraption is a softball shrine.
The Residence Inn did afford me some reading time. Americanah, a novel by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie tells the story of Ifemelu and Obindze, who grow up and fall in love in their native Nigeria, and who end up being separated by choices in education, work and love. It is also a powerful story about race, in the United States and in Nigeria. Adichie approaches it in several ways: with Ifemelu’s lively and assertive blog, with a straight narrative about immigration and unemployment, and with the complex love story that is the centerpiece of the book. I love her seamless and methodical voice; when Ifemelu is unemployed and depressed I could feel her despair and loneliness just by how she described the moldy apartment carpeting and slovenly roommates. When she returns to Lagos, the suffocating heat gives way to pungent spices and makeshift architecture. She confronts race issues head on; there were plenty of moments I saw myself in the well-meaning, educated, but ultimately uninformed white person at the cocktail party, trying to discuss liberal views. The love story, while intoxicating, left me dissatisfied. But this could be my own baggage speaking here; I’ll let you decide for yourself.
And then we came home. Having squashed the sleepover The Son attempted in our absence, we were greeted by this table assortment: 3 individual-sized Round Table Pizza boxes, 6-8 empty root beer cans, three Sporting Greens (poorly refolded), easily 20 used, curled up cheese stick wrappers, 3 movie rental receipts (no worse than rated R, thankfully), two curious regurgitations from the dog (under the table and therefore unnoticeable), one or two clean socks (out of desperation I am going to make that assumption), and The Son’s greeting: “Hey. I slept in your room the past few nights because I just couldn’t deal with mine.” But he took care of the plants, kept the dog from eating the smaller neighborhood dogs, watched that Grandpa didn’t fall, and was very responsive and sweet to his sisters, both of whom had rough softball roads, getting screamed at to hit the ball or make a play in 105 degree heat.
So this morning we shipped him off to his internship, hitching a ride with our friend, one of the partners in the company. Of course, if you are 17 you don’t appreciate all the free food platters you are handed; you can only see ten minutes ahead and if it doesn’t involve more sleep or a burrito, it just ends up pissing you off. “Hey, pretty sure my son forgot to sleep last night. Just to let you know,” Mr. Halfstory texted to the friend.
“Fred Flintstone has gone to work,” Halfstory continued to me, “and at the end of the day let’s just hope he has the energy to slide down the brontosaurus’s tail.”
We estimate in the last two weeks he has gotten more things delivered to him than the White House Secretary: infinite pizzas, a “World Series” ring for winning a tournament with his travel baseball team, two separate gifts from his sisters, the coveted internship, and two bagels on a plate which his buddy came over and made for him while we were gone. I suspect he has a future.